zaterdag, december 15, 2007

Sakai is serious about internationalization

Within the Sakai community, everyone does tremendous work. Some of us work hard on the code of Sakai, others on quality, others on clear requirements and there is a group working on the user experience (done trhough the Fluid project). Today I want to highlight another important aspect of the Sakai community. This is the group of people that work hard on Sakai for the users in non-English speaking countries. This is the Internationalization Working Group, where Beth Kirschner is the coordinator.
This group not only deals with pure translation of everthing that's inside Sakai. No, they really do "Internationalization", which means that Sakai will also adhere to conventions in other countries. Just to name one issue within this realm: date and time formatting. Over here in Europe we don't use the AM and PM convention. We have 24 hours in one day!
If you want to know what's being worked on, please go to Known I18N problems - WG: I18N & L10N - Confluence, where you will find the Top Internationalization Problems. There is also a Internationalization dashboard (hosted in Amsterdam), that shows you how many files have been internationalized so far. There is also a page with current information on the Dutch translation. Still some work to be done! Good to know: LOI, Portfolio4u, Edia and A New Spring have joined forces to get things done. These are all commercial companies working with Sakai in The Netherlands.

dinsdag, december 11, 2007

ccLearn: very promising ideas!

ccLearn was 'publicly' launched during the Sakai conference in Amsterdam in June of this year (picture of Hal Abelson). ccLearn has made some interesting progress. ccLearn is partnering with Google to create a so-called "Web-scale open education search". Please check it out at:

Open Education Search — ccLearn
Institutions have done amazing work creating and publishing OERs on the web, but the infrastructure to fully realize the value of these investments is still at the Web 1.0 level. Web-scale open education search is a component of taking the OER ecosystem to the next level, as well as a driver for interoperability and standards across OER implementations. (..) the goal is to increase the visibility and traffic to all specialized
OER repositories. There will always be a need for repositories that
focus on specific subsets of OER or allow for interaction with OER in
specialized ways. Our belief is that web-scale search will enable a
quantum leap in the awareness and utilization of OER by directing
interested users to existing sites more successfully.

maandag, december 10, 2007

{Dutch} Alan Berg on Sakai

Alan Berg works at the University of Amsterdam. He wrote a piece on Sakai (in Dutch), with some interesting comments by fellow Sakai followers at the University of Amsterdam. Just go here: Open source LMS Sakai gedijt goed aan de UvA
De afgelopen week (van 4 tot en met 6 december) werd in de Amerikaanse stad Newport Beach de '8th Sakai Conference' gehouden, een conferentie over de open source digitale leeromgeving Sakai. Een van de deelnemers was Alan Berg, senior developer en 'fulltime probleemoplosser' binnen de Onderwijs- & Onderzoek Dienstengroep (ODG) van de Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). In onderstaand artikel beschrijft hij de aard van Sakai, de relatie tussen Sakai en de UvA en houdt hij een rondgang langs een aantal betrokkenen.

donderdag, december 06, 2007

Apples & pears

The keynote of day two by Bob Sutor, VP of open source and standards at IBM was partly about something very familiar to Dutch innovators in Higher Education. Sutor spoke about something that has also been coined 'Generation Einstein' in the Netherlands. A new generation of learners entering the schools with a lot of computer skills and therefore more technological demands. But his talk 'from closed to open' was also about the role of open software in this development. Reasoning from the deception that the new generation faces when confronted with 'boring' educational software, open source developments in conjuction with the 'read/write' web 2.0 offer a possibility to start creating better educational systems that meet the demands of the new learners.

UC Berkely showed some of this in practise as they demonstrated their 'OpenCast' initiative. In collaboration with Apple they work on an architecture for producing, sharing and delivering webcasts in education. And it integrates with Youtube too, speaking about new demands. All together a far from trivial and challenging combination of technology, didactic concepts, new (open) business logic and so forth.
Like the OpenCast project, a general observation is that there are many professional and well-structured developments going on, that are either built in Sakai or integrated with it. Just take Sakai as given and you can put energy in shaping the environment to your philosophy of education.

I will be representing the Dutch Sakai SIG in the panel session “Sakai in your backyard' about organizing regional Sakai events. And it actually feels a bit like the backyard when I have to mention that in the Netherlands we are still busy comparing apples with pears in the backyard, whereas we should be reasoning about what kind of neat features and innovations we could develop within the community! Take Sakai as given, and direct the resources to make Sakai match optimally to your philosophy of education. Sometimes i think this is what it's all about: either you model the software to your organisation (open source) or you model your organisation to the software you have (closed source).

Next up for today is the technical demo of the Sign-up tool that Porfolio4U and Edia developed in the last month. A hot item because it turned out to be a classic case of concurrent development. Yale university, Stanford university and University of Michigan have or have had Sign-up projects. So what will happen? Can we agree to synchronize requirements and come up with one tool, or will there be different sign-up tools in the future? Think of it, there are in fact a lot of use cases for a sign-up tool, ranging from student meetings, tutoring sessions or even seminars and workshops.
Does anybody know a good alternative name for a tool that allows people to sign up for events such as seminars, workshops and the like?

woensdag, december 05, 2007

Connexions and Sakai?

Originally uploaded by swedishcoins
Through the photostream of Magnus (Stockholm University) I found this piece of great news: the Connexions project (at Rice University) is looking at the Sakai community (and Foundation). That would be good news if these two movements came together in the near future!
There is more stuff coming from Sweden! This is a weblog that I recently discovered: the Swedish Learning Space.

Day One in Newport Beach

Today the main Sakai conference started in Newport Beach, about 55 miles south of Los Angeles. The hotel and surroundings (picture taken from the hotel) provide an excellent environment for the coming days. I have been told that 411 people have registered for the conference, and I have counted three Dutchmen among them.

So what was on this morning? The day started off with an inspiring key note talk by Joel Thierstein, Executive Director of Connexions and Associate Provost of Rice University. The Connexions platform is definitely worth some further investigation. From a conceptual point of view, one could compare it with Dutch activities within the ‘educatieve contentketen’. Like in the Netherlands , (business)models of open content, re-use and sharing within a community are new, and therefore also require new and challenging forms of governance and leadership within such communities.

In another session, 'converting from an existing course management system to Sakai' by David Melone, I heard some interesting remarks on integrating Sakai with an existing Question Mark Perception instance. I turns out that they are interested in sharing an LDAP between the two systems and possibly report QMP grades to the Sakai gradebook. Since the University of Amsterdam now uses a QMP instance for their ICTO - Digital testing programme, I think it might be something to keep on our radar.

The Sakai Foundation executive director Micheal Korcuska gave an update on the Sakai Foundation in the third session. It seems that there has been a good debate within the foundation about the mission statement of Sakai and the priorities of the Sakai Foundation. The mission could be ‘Beat Blackboard’ , but Michael came up with a few more thoughtful statements:

· Create flexibility for education
· Facilitate innovation
· Reduce total costs of VLE’s
· Increase user satisfaction
· Promote openness

Next to that the two top priorities of the Sakai foundation should be to ‘create the highest quality core software’ and ‘Seek to engage new members of the community’.Regarding the last point, there is in fact some debate about the adoption of Sakai. The question is whether it is desired to have ( a lot) more institutions new to Sakai at this moment and seeing the complexity of managing the already large community rise.
This discussion also relates to the type of institutions, e.g community colleges, corporations etc. that are moving into the direction of Sakai. Mike Zackrison, vice-president of marketing and strategy at rSmart also touched on the debate in his session. rSmart has done a survey investigating various types of institutions and their future plans with regard to (open source) VLE’s, and they found some interesting issues. Those who are interested should contact rSmart to get a copy of the survey results. What made the talk especially interesting is that there seem to be differences in views on open source across different types of institutions. For example the rSmart survey concluded that community colleges (in the U.S) see open source as risky and do not tend to be interested in Sakai. Well, we all now that in The Netherlands community colleges have the largest install base of Sakai-OSP in the Dutch educational system, using the hosted solution by Portfolio4u. That shows the need of more market investigations throughout different regions and sharing them with the community, because the Sakai Foundation is debating these issues! The general idea however about the adoption of Sakai is that an increase of institutions using Sakai would be the preferred development. And in the end that is no surprise to me.

dinsdag, december 04, 2007

Make me jealous!

Unfortunately I cannot attend the current Sakai conference. So my question is: is anyone taking pictures at the conference (and outside the conference)? Can I see them?

woensdag, november 28, 2007

Sakaiger in Amsterdam

Originally uploaded by wytze
Just before all Sakaigers boarded their private planes to Newport Beach (where the next Sakai conference is held; I will not be there, unfortunately), one of the bunch visited the Portfolio4u offices in Amsterdam. He (or is she?) was talked about......
Do you want to see where Sakaiger(s) have been so far? Check out the photos at

maandag, november 19, 2007

Thoughts on the Sakai future...

It is the time of the year again. No, I do not mean Christmas etc. I mean the Sakai Board Elections are underway.
Michael Korcuska has set up a space on Confluence, where current Board members and candidates have posted a vision for the future of Sakai (at least for 2008). Michael himself has also written out some interesting thoughts on this page. Absolutely worth the read, even I you don't have the privilege to vote.
One candidate, Michael Feldstein, uses his own weblog to communicate with us, the voters. He recently wrote an interesting analysis regarding the Sakai future:
Within every university I talk to these days, I find three factions with respect to instructional technology. How big or powerful each faction is and who is in it varies from place to place, but the factions are always the same.

Faction #1 ("give me something off-the-rack") is the biggest faction in most institutions, also in The Netherlands.

donderdag, november 15, 2007

Presentations available

SURFfoundation has been so kind to put our presentations online on SlideShare already (they are in Dutch).
So here's the introduction by Wytze:
SlideShare | View
And the presentation by Frank that gives some more details about the history of Sakai and the way the software is produced:
SlideShare | View

woensdag, november 14, 2007

Exhausted after the pre-conference

Originally uploaded by Gerard Dummer
Yesterday we (from left to right: Jaeques Koeman, Jan van den Berge, Wytze Koopal, Frank Benneker) delivered our pre-conference at the SURF Onderwijsdagen. Gerard Dummer was so kind to take a picture of us after the pre-conference. I must say that I was quite exhausted after the 3 hour session (can you see it?).

maandag, november 12, 2007

We will have enough participants!

A few weeks ago I put up an announcement that we would be doing a pre-conference workshop on Nov 13 (tomorrow!) at the SURF Onderwijsdagen (one of the largest conferences on elearning in The Netherlands with some 600 people in attendance). A little less than 20 people have signed up for the pre-conference workshop, which sounds like a reasonable amount to me.
So, today we are heavily preparing our workshop. The agenda (in Dutch) can be found online (a Google document).

maandag, oktober 22, 2007

What if... this was your last lecture?

This has been picked up already in the blogosphere and on news sites, here, in the New York Times, or here.... But anyway.
The concept of the 'last lecture' is meant for professors to really think about what they would like to tell in their last lecture. A few 'last lectures' already have been given. A really powerful concept, isn't it? Forget all the humbug and daily routines: you have just so little time to deliver your last lecture. It better be good!
Recently, professor Randy Pausch really gave his last lecture. This wasn't just an exercise for him, since he has pancreatic cancer and only has a few months left to live. Just take a look at the video for a few minutes: it is really impressive. The video is brought to us under a Creative Commons license ("The video and transcript will technically be under a "creative commons" license, which will be a legal way of saying that you may use them for non-commercial purposes, so long as you don't alter them, and you give attribution. Please bear with me; figuring out that legal stuff is secondary to my other priorities.")

dinsdag, oktober 16, 2007

Please apply now!

Just a quick note: the Sakai Foundation seeks an User Experience Lead. Check out the job description at LinkedIn: "We have a unique opportunity for a talented individual to play a key leadership role in a global open source project that is developing a system for teaching, learning, and research in HIgher Education. The Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment ( is being adopted by many colleges and universities around the world."

dinsdag, oktober 09, 2007

[Dutch] Kom je naar onze pre-conference?

This is about the pre-conference that you can attend on Nov 13 in Utrecht (Jaarbeurs) at the SURF Onderwijsdagen 2007.
========== Begin press release ===============
"Iedere bezoeker van de SURF Onderwijsdagen zal wel eens van Sakai gehoord hebben. Maar nog weinigen hebben Sakai zelf aan den lijve ondervonden of er mee gewerkt. Een goed oordeel vellen over Sakai is dan moeilijk. Zowel de Universiteit Twente als de Universiteit van Amsterdam hebben uitgebreide ervaring met Sakai. Door middel van kleine opdrachten zullen we de deelnemers laten ervaren wat Sakai is.
Maar we gaan meer doen in deze pre-conference: we gaan ook uitleg geven over community source, over de Sakai Foundation, over het hoe en waarom van opensource etc.
We verwachten enige voorbereiding van de deelnemers. Zie
========= End press release =================
Onze pre-conferentie is een co-productie van Wytze Koopal (Universiteit Twente), Jaeques Koeman en Frank Benneker (Universiteit van Amsterdam) en Jan van den Berge (Portfolio4u).
Als je je wilt opgeven, ga dan naar Als je onderwerpen of suggesties hebt voor de pre-conference, laat het ons dan weten. Bijvoorbeeld via een reactie op dit bericht.

zondag, september 30, 2007

Anyone going to Berlin?

Something I also sent out to Euro Sakai mailing list recently. Please reply ASAP.
What started out at the bar in Amsterdam as just an idea, seems to become something real...
What am I talking about?

I am talking about a great marketing opportunity to make ourselves and Sakai known, by doing some promotion at the Online Educa conference in Berlin, on Berlin (Germany), November 28 - 30, 2007. See
At this largest elearning conference in Europe there is a possibility that we can use the booth of the SURFfoundation and JISC (they have a combined booth) at the trade floor. If so, then we need a few (between 5 and 8) people that will be answering questions, show some stuff etc at the booth.
So, my main questions are:
1/ Who is going to the Online Educa conference?
2/ Who is willing to spend some hours in the booth to do some 'marketing' stuff?

Ofcourse, if we are going to do this, we will need to do some preparation (posters etc), but that should not be an issue.

Please respond ASAP, as we need to finalize our arrangements with SURFfoundation and JISC soon.
Thanks in advance!

vrijdag, september 28, 2007

Visit to Rotterdam

Yesterday I paid a visit to Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). They invited me to give them a introduction to Sakai in 25 minutes. I talked to a group of about 20 people, that are considered to be the elearning experts of this university. The presentation (Google doc; Dutch) went quite well!
What striked me was that there was quite a bit of frustation within the group about Blackboard (their current VLE). It was called inflexible, hard to manage etc. There were also the questions about what opensource is about. For example the question how security and bugs are handled with these type of software communities. Well, as Chris already wrote yesterday: we are doing quite good.

maandag, september 24, 2007

Security releases of Sakai

Last friday two security releases of Sakai became available. Go to the release page for the latest info on this 2.4.1 release.
In the meantime the community is working hard for Sakai 2.5 to come out on November 12. Some news on this release:
  • Open Source Portfolio will be promoted to the core of Sakai
  • Abilities to delete unwanted stuff in Forum, Messages and Chat
  • Some good stuff in Resources
  • iCal subscription export service and import, available in Schedule (yeah!!)
  • and much more....
I you have some spare time, please devote it to the QA of Sakai 2.5. Check out confluence for more information on how to help.

vrijdag, september 21, 2007

Help NIET mee aan de SURFgroepen campagne

[this is in Dutch] SURFnet is wel erg druk om SURFgroepen te promoten.... Nu wordt er zelfs een oproep geplaatst om mee te helpen om SURFgroepen bekend te maken (bron). Ik zou de collega's in het land willen oproepen om NIET mee te doen aan deze campagne!
Wil je weten waarom ik deze oproep plaats? Omdat ik vind dat SURFnet hiermee nogal inbreuk maakt op wat er gaande is in onze instellingen, waar we net met veel moeite een Electronische Leeromgeving hebben geïntroduceerd.

donderdag, september 20, 2007

Meeting in Amsterdam: meeting notes available

Originally uploaded by wytze
Yesterday we had a cosy meeting in Amsterdam. We came together in the Albert Einstein room. Sound a lot better than "0.10" or whatever. It inspired us to be creative and constructive at the same time. Check it out at our website:
Meeting notes of edition 2.1 of Sakai SIG NL (19 sep 2007) !
I am very happy with one result from the meeting: other people, namely Jaeques, Jan and Frank stood up to assist me in creating our pre-conference "Everything you need to know about Sakai" for the next SURF Onderwijsdagen (only in Dutch). One of the keynote speakers at the Onderwijsdagen is Stephen Downes; don't miss it!

vrijdag, september 14, 2007

Agenda for Sep 19, 2007

Next week the Sakai Special Interest Group NL will meet in Amsterdam, as announced before. Everyone is cordially invited to attend. There is no obligation to register or whatever (although a little note is appreciated!).
We will discuss the plans for the coming year (the current members of the Sakai SIG NL already received a draft document concering our plans), as well as current developments within our institutions. Especially the Saxion University and the University of Amsterdam (the host for this meeting) will fill us in on their current projects.
Furthermore I surely want to discuss how we will create a great pre-conference workshop at the largest elearning fair in The Netherlands for Higher Ed, the SURF Onderwijsdagen. This pre-conference workshop will take place on November 13. Mark your agenda's!
All details on the agenda for next week are, as always, available online (in Dutch). If you cannot attend our meeting, please let me know.

donderdag, september 13, 2007

It is now public: Sakai is on hold

Sakai in de ijskast - UT Nieuws
Originally uploaded by
Several weeks ago we mentioned that our final report of our Sakai pilots was available. Today our university newspaper features an article where you can read (in Dutch) the decisions that have been made by our board, with some comments by my colleague Stanley Portier.
Our board has urged us to put some serious effort in evaluating the MS Sharepoint 2007 product. This should be our sole focus for the coming months.
The fact that very few institutions in The Netherlands are investigating Sakai, is an important factor in the decision of our board to steer in the direction of Sharepoint (for which there seems to be more interest within our sector).
Final decisions will made early in 2008. We will keep you posted.

donderdag, september 06, 2007

Did you know?

Did you know that all board meetings of the Sakai Foundation are documented and are available for everyone to see? Check here for all the minutes. Don't get disappointed too quickly, because you see a long list of documents... You want to read the minutes of the last meeting, don't you? Well, click here.
Did you know that there are several interesting listings. Just to name a few:
  1. the Sakai installations that we know of on a map,
  2. the Sakai sites in a long list (143 items and still counting) with all technical details (e.g. Georgia Tech, or Lubeck), or
  3. a status page where you will find information on all Contrib projects?

maandag, augustus 27, 2007

We'll meet again in September

Originally uploaded by wytze
Summer vacation is now officially over here in The Netherlands. At our campus the so-called introduction period has started (see photo) for our new students. Next week, classes will start.
The first meeting of the Sakai SIG NL has also been planned, in close cooperation with Jaeques Koeman (University of Amsterdam). We will meet, at the University of Amsterdam, on Sept 19. Details about location and time: 10:00 - 14:00, room T1.10 (ground floor), Instituut voor Interdisciplinaire Studies, Sarphatistraat 104, 1018 GV Amsterdam , click for location on Google map .
Details about the final programme will be communicated later, but please block this date in your calender. And if you would like to be a presenter at this meeting, please make yourself known!

donderdag, augustus 23, 2007

Get your proposals ready!

The next Sakai conference is already in the making (did you notice that the domain is ""?). I have heard about some great names as possible keynote speakers (Michael tells something about it).
But before i lose you: this post is about us, you and me. We can submit proposals and the deadline is September 15, 2007.
Shall we use the tag "sakainewportbeach07" for all news regarding this upcoming conference in Newport Beach?

maandag, augustus 20, 2007

Fedora Commons gets funding!

Great news that I recently heard about Fedora. They have been awarded a $4.9M Grant to Develop Open-Source Software for Building Collaborative Information Communities. From the press release:
"Fedora Commons today announced the award of a four year, $4.9M grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to develop the organizational and technical frameworks necessary to effect revolutionary change in how scientists, scholars, museums, libraries, and educators collaborate to produce, share, and preserve their digital intellectual creations. Fedora Commons is a new non-profit organization that will continue the mission of the Fedora Project, the successful open-source software collaboration between Cornell University and the University of Virginia."
Who is Gordon Moore you would ask? He was was one of the founders of Intel, and is known for "Moore's Law". Wikipedia tells you what this law is about, in case you didn't know.

donderdag, augustus 09, 2007

Comparing apples and oranges

If you are a member of you can a create a so-called 'subscription'. This means that you can pinch in some tag(s) and then get access to all the links of all the users of that have used that same tag(s) in their collection of links.
Through my subcription to the tag 'sakai' I found a very nice article. It is called Is Open Source Right for You?. The article clearly identifies some important factors in considering open source, and Sakai for that matter: "So what makes an organization a good candidate for open source? And is open source mature enough yet to be considered a viable alternative to commercial learning management systems, particularly for use in corporate environments?

Here's a look at several factors any organization contemplating open source should put on its "must list" to consider."
The article make an important distinction between a course management system (CMS) and a Learning Management System (LMS). I always sort of tried not to think of this distinction, but it is indeed important to have a good understanding of the differences. For one: a LMS has clear administrative functions that a typical CMS doesn't have. An LMS is therefore mostly used in a corporate environment, in contrast to a CMS, that is typically used in Higher Ed (or education in general).

donderdag, augustus 02, 2007

Time to start writing!!!

Through the wonders of Bloglines, I came across (again!) the weblog by Scott Wilson. He pointed me to the JOLT - Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. This is a great resource! I highly recommend it. And then I read this:
"The June 2008 issue of JOLT will be a special issue, centered on the topic of next generation learning/course management systems (L/CMS). (..) new technologies present diverse ideas and opportunities for engaged e-learning (..)."
Themes that are mentioned for this special issue are (e.g.) "Open source vs commercial environments" or "Best practices in teaching within the L/CMS".
Time to get writing! The proposal deadline is Feb 29, 2008.
The Sakai community should have at least one feature article in this special issue, shouldn't we?

dinsdag, juli 31, 2007

New institution using Sakai

Sometimes you are confronted with a pleasant surprise. This time it came to me trough my email. I was asked to comment on a choice between Sakai and Moodle as possible course management system for Academia Vitae. I had never heard of this educational institution before in my life. And to make it worse: they are located in Deventer, which is quite close to my hometown.
Academia Vitae is a privately-funded institution that provides educational programmes for young professionals and more experienced professionals. They have taken the model of a classic university and liberal arts and sciences. They offer several broad programmes to the students. Their ICT strategy is geared towards opensource, therefore their shortlist contained Sakai and Moodle. Not even before I properly had responded to their questions in their first email, I received a second email that they had chosen Sakai. One of the reasons mentioned in favor of Sakai, is the educational model of Moodle that doesn't really fit the philosophy of Academia Vitae.
Academia Vitae will be working with Edia (the company that brought us Sakai on a stick) in implementing Sakai.

dinsdag, juli 17, 2007

Standards: a lot of useful information from JISC!

The JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), based in the UK, has a great Standards Catalogue. The information has been collated by UKOLN (Brian Kelly). This kind of resource is, for me, very valuable. Otherwise I would have been surfing the net endlessly.
The information is not restricted to purely 'open' standards, which (at this moment in time, that is) is understandable. The information is also not restricted to e-learning standards, but also standards in the field of text editing or images. Sometimes you need to be a little pragmatic. All standards are documented in the same way (based on a template). What is very nice that there are headings like "Risk Asessment" and "Take-up Elsewhere" for every entry. The approach of JISC with regard to standards is also explained.
I found a wiki, which is the working area, where 'everyone' can edit. And there is a website, that holds more permanent (and pertinent?) information. Go find out for yourself what you think!
Some standards that you will find explained:
  1. Binary text documents, such as DOC, RTF, ODF, or PDF
  2. Image standards: for example SVG, TIFF or PNG
  3. Examples of multimedia standards: ACC, MP3, ASF
  4. Metadata: DIDL, RDF, RSS
  5. E-learning standards: Learning Design, Content Packaging, IMS Enterprise, QTI

maandag, juli 16, 2007

The photos of Amsterdam

It is vacation time... Nothing much will happen in the coming weeks. We will be back in the middle in August.
I have created a post with some visual appeal with SideFlickr to keep you 'satisfied'. It is a slideshow from my Amsterdam conference photo set.

vrijdag, juli 06, 2007

What are we going to do?

Originally uploaded by wytze
In our last meeting, on July 4, we discussed improvements we could make to the operations of the Sakai SIG NL. One of the suggestions was that we should make use of locations other than the SURFfoundation offices. Also it was suggested that, when having a meeting at a certain location, the location 'owner' would be responsible for the organisation of the meeting (e.g. inviting speakers, organise lunch etc). This also fits nicely with what we have dubbed 'distributed leadership'.
The first meeting of the next year, meeting 2.1, will most possibly be held at the University of Amsterdam. But also Saxion Hogescholen, Portfolio4U and A New Spring have offered to host a meeting in the coming year. Stay tuned for exact dates.
Please read the slide and also the meeting notes in the powerpoint presentation over at our website if you want to know all the details:

woensdag, juli 04, 2007

Amsterdam Conference videos online

It took a week extra but the videos of the 7th conference in Amsterdam are online. They are available at the following website:

under de Sakai button.
Unfortunately non-ms window users might experience some problems.
The mediasite application is optimized for microsoft file formats.
The video file format is *.wmv

Individual links to presentations listed according to the conference agenda:

Pre Conference 11 june: ( Matterhorn 2) - Morning:

Introduction Sakai (1):

Introduction Sakai (2):


Introduction to OSP (1):

Introduction to OSP (2):

Introduction to OSP (3):

12 june ( Matterhorn 1,2,3)

Opening of 7th Sakai Conference June 2007

Morning (Matterhorn 3)

Inclusive Design and..

An Introduction to FLUID...

Sakai UI design patterns

Sakai technical futures


Mneme: test center...

Welcome speech Paul Doop ...

13 june (Matterhorn 1) - Morning:

Learning styles and the online...

Open courseware pedagogy...

Innovative pedagogyin a dual ...

Lams V2 an Sakai ...


Open-CLE an open standard...

Student interaction with ...

Matterhorn 1,2,3:

Technical demonstation...

14 june (zurich 1) - Morning:

The use and integration of Sakai ...

Off to fast start OSP in Dutch ...

Sakai/OSP portfolio ...

Collaborating in a new Paradigm ...

Gt Sakai implementation ...


Sakai Accessibility Update ...

Closing and thank you ...

dinsdag, juli 03, 2007

Final report in English (University of Twente)

The project team at the University of Twente has recently finished their pilot project Campus Blend using Sakai (CBUS in short). In this project Sakai was evaluated on different aspects. Evaluation was done on technical aspects, educational and functional aspects as well as community aspects.
Extensive results and conclusion on the aforementioned aspects are all to be found in the final report, that has been translated into English for everyone to read. Go to, where you can download your (electronic) copy of the report.

maandag, juli 02, 2007

{Dutch} Waarom geen opensource in het Hoger Onderwijs?

This post will be mostly in Dutch...
Ruben van Wendel de Joode (TU Delft) reflects on some recent research that concludes that not even one institution for Higher Education in The Netherlands uses an opensource product in when it comes to a VLE or CMS.
Ruben heeft het onderzoek van de Open Universiteit gelezen dat in het kader van het e-Learning research programma van SURFfoundation onlangs is verschenen. Hij begint zijn review als volgt:
"Met groeiende belangstelling en verbazing heb ik zojuist op een druilerige zondagavond het rapport gelezen over een door SURF foundation gefinancierd onderzoek naar de adoptie van open source elektronische leeromgevingen in het hoger onderwijs. In de inleiding, die begint op pagina 7, staat voor mij de meest essentiële uitkomst van het hele onderzoek. Van de 33 hoger onderwijsinstellingen die de enquête hebben ingevuld, maakt er niet één gebruik van open source in de elektronische leeromgeving (elo). Een opmerkelijke uitkomst."
Lees meer in Belangrijkste vraag blijft onbeantwoord.

woensdag, juni 27, 2007

Agenda for next meeting (July 4)

The last meeting of the Sakai Special Interest Group The Netherlands of the current academic year is scheduled for July 4 (next Wednesday). Main agenda item is the evaluation of the University of Twente of Sakai. The complete agenda of this meeting is available for you to read (in Dutch).
In case you are planning to attend, a little note by email would be appreciated.

dinsdag, juni 26, 2007

Final reports of University of Twente

Today we have formally finished our evaluation of Sakai (regarding community, functionality of Sakai, technical aspects and financial aspects). You will find all information and our reports on our website, The reports are all in the Dutch language, but they all have an extensive summary in English. The final report ("Eindadvies") is being translated in English in full as we speak.
To summarize our work: we are quite happy with Sakai (version 2.3 that is), but some functionalities should be worked on before we would go into full production. Furthermore we will need to look into MS Sharepoint regarding possible components that could fulfill some of our needs. So, all in all this boils down to a final decision that will be made in the spring of next year (2008).
Our reports now go into the formal decision process. We will keep you posted.

vrijdag, juni 22, 2007

Let's talk pedagogy?

For those who are a member of the pedagogy discussion group may have witnessed a very lively discussion going on on all matters around pedagogy (or didactics as the colleagues from Norway would say) ( To me this is an immediate effect of the Amsterdam conference. I can't remember that the discussion has been so intensive as it is right now. That's the good thing about it. I've tried to keep up with the discussion for a few days, and also replied with some posts, but simply don't have enough time right now. Because there are so many contributions (already 35 today, and the Americans are still working at this time...) it becomes difficult to keep track of all the discussion threads that are going on. You have to read every mail to see who is replying to who, and if anyone has replied to your own contribution. I noticed one remarkable post by Clay Fenlason saying that "Just as developers can get preoccupied with the cool next thing and leave the user behind, so also can pedagogists get swept up by the vision of the big rethink". It took about some 20 further posts before someone replied to this... Hopefully things will get organised soon into relatively small working packages in which the requirements are fullfilled, instead of loosing ourselves into extensive discussions that sometimes don't have a clear focus.

donderdag, juni 21, 2007

Some news from last week on film :-)

Last week,, the website with lots of elearning coverage in The Netherlands, was present at our conference. They released some video-interviews on Sakai yesterday.
Check it out (in WMV format): Chuck (in English), Michael (in English) and, well, yes, and me (in Dutch).... When I was interviewed the camera was so close to my head (!), but the end-result is quite OK, don't you think?
For those who read Dutch, you can also read on Edusite the summary of the Q&A session with the Board.

woensdag, juni 20, 2007

Executive dinner - part 2

This is a second post on the executive dinner last week in Amsterdam. There are three more things that are worth mentioning here and are fit for publication. Some other things are also really worth mentioning, but are not fit for publication yet. Please keep coming back and you might find out!
First of all there was a quite interesting point that was made by John Norman, the chair of the Sakai Board of Directors. He told us that for them, at the University of Cambridge, one of the big benefits of joining Sakai is what he calls 'staff development'. Because you are engaged in a worldwide, very fast-moving community, your staff gets much more opportunities to develop themselves. And you also can attract more easily the people that you need, because of the Sakai work that you need to do. This is really true for Cambridge. They have indeed attracted at least two sofware engineers from outside the UK to work for them.
Another interesting discussion we had was about software licensing. Well, actually it was about freedom of choice ofcourse! Most (commercial) software licencing schemes are based on 'seats' or 'users' or 'accounts', or maybe 'campus' or 'location'. This is very confining to the way we operate as educational institutions. This will simply not hold true in our sector. Think about all the collaboration we do, within our country, or even within the EU. Or what about the guest lecturers that we invite to our campuses. Officially they most likely are not allowed to use your VLE. There was given an example of a portofolio system in the UK that caused these kind of headaches to the ones involved. Because of the Educational Community License of Sakai, I can give away as many accounts and access rights to our Sakai system as needed. And we have done that already, and we will. There is one account underway right now!
One other interesting aspect of Sakai that we discussed is that a 'surprising' amount of Sakai installations are not physically based at a educational institution. Someone said that maybe about 50% of Sakai use is through intermediaries. So, in case you feel that your institution is not capable of hosting and servicing Sakai (which is indeed not that easy), you can rely on a service provider. This is true in the US, but also in The Netherlands. Go talk to Stoas, Portfolio4u, A New Spring, Omix or Edia! They will be more than happy to assist you. And if you want more 'independent' advice, please feel free to contact me.

zaterdag, juni 16, 2007

Executive dinner - part 1

Wednesday, June 13, was the 2nd day of the latest Sakai conference. It was a busy day, as I mentioned earlier. I had been looking forward to this day for quite some time. Mainly because Frank Benneker and myself organized a dinner meeting on behalf of SURFfoundation between the Sakai Board and representatives of SURFfoundation, plus executives from Higher Education instituions in The Netherlands. The exchange of ideas during the meeting was very open and honest. Charles Severance had prepared a very thorough, but concise, walkthrough of what Sakai is, why Sakai exists, and who is part of it. This laid the foundation for some thorough discussions that we had.
Let me just give some highlights:
  1. The relation with Oracle, more specifically regarding Peoplesoft Campus Solutions, was asked for. Apparantly this good news had not travelled in the right directions: that the integrations between Campus Solutions and Sakai is being worked on quite extensively and that some results should be expected by the end of the year. The University of Amsterdam is closely involved in this effort.
  2. Security and reliability of Sakai. I could say the same thing ('news has not travelled yet'). Twofold answer: there is very effective security procedure in place, headed by Anthony Whyte, but secondly there has not been any major breakdown of a Sakai installation due to hackers and/or very clever students. In a sense this was the question if open source software is enterprise ready, scalable and secure. We answered this very effectively, I think.
Some more highlights in a later post....

vrijdag, juni 15, 2007

UX stands for "User Experience"

Originally uploaded by wytze
Already in Atlanta I heard about the Fluid Project. At that time I didn't really understand the possible impact, ambitions and scope of this endeavour. Ofcourse not everything could have been clear at that time either, because the project team was still working ong the proposal. Eventually the project received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in April 2007 for a 2-year timeframe. The Fluid project is led by the University of Toronto, with core participation from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Cambridge, the University of British Columbia and York University..
This Amsterdam Sakai conference was the second encounter I had with the project. And I am impressed and I am really looking forward to the results.
Friday morning, while the official conference was already over, I attended an extensive session on the project and its goals. I am not even going to try to sum up all the good things I heard, also because some things are fairly technical. I will just give you my summary here.
First of all this is not just a project within the Sakai context. It is a project that actually all open source software projects should benefit from. The closest relations right now are with Sakai, Moodle, Kuali Student and uPortal. IBM and Sun Microsystems are also partners in the project. The project will provide common tools, as well as guidelines and software components for improving the usability and the accessibility of software. The goals of the project are very ambitious and are described as flexible user interfaces (what do you think of 'swappable interfaces at runtime'!). The project will also explicitly build a community around the efforts, so that it will be sustainable after the funding period. Every contribution is appreciated.
If one wants to put it a little bit differently, one could say that this project will infuse Sakai and other systems with those Web 2.0 features that everyone has come to love, combined with complete accessability, through keyboards and screenreaders. There is already (and we are only two months in the project) a very nice demonstration of what is possible, which is called Lightbox.
The first thing that will be done next, is what is called UX walktroughs. This will mean very detailed analysis of usage of the system right now. Sakai will be one of the systems that will be analysed like this. Signup for this effort is possible; I am seriously thinking about doing this. Go to (website and wiki are being organized while you read) if you also want to give your contributions to this great project.

The countries we came from

Originally uploaded by wytze
Yesterday at the closing sesssion, there were some interesting numbers. The total number of participants was almost 400. This is the splitup of the numbers. There were 89 people from The Netherlands, which is a big succes in my opinion!

Impressions on June 14th

June 14th was for me the third and last conference day. First I joined a session by Angelica Risquez from the University of Limerick. They use the rSmart hosted CLE solution. Despite the fact that rSmart did a thorough re-design of the Sakau GUI and combined functional components based on processes from the end user perspective there are still some problems. There seems to be a new version of the rSmart solution, but I don't have the details yet. Baiscally the end user requires too much navigation to get to the point where he wants to. The combination of functional components ('Learn', 'Inform', etc.) is not always logical and inflexible. Moreover, instructors tend to use it in different ways. It would be a good thing if an institute could make adaptations to the default settings that rSmart has chosen.
After that I went to a track of three sessions on the use of OSP. For me it was the first time to get some in-depth information on how OSP is used in daily practice. I saw some nice examples being presented. Marij Veugelers (University of Amsterdam) stressed that you have to organize your projects very well to be successful. Project manager, educational technology consultants, support, community of practice, communications are important components. Natasa Brouwer showed an interesting example in a 3yrs. chemist Bachelor program. The next presentation by Sara Hill adds some additional pedagogical issues to this like the issue that students have to get used to reflect on their work. Reflection should be carefully integrated into the curriculum. One of her lessons learned was the reflection intervals have to be planned in order to keep the process going one. Furthermore, it is a good thing to include peers into the reflection process. The third OSP presentation by Bergman & Poklop introduced a portfolio review tool. At Northeastern University (Boston, MA) the instructors experienced problems with finding the right portfolio in order to give their feedback/review. The Education technology department developed a PHP application that includes a reporting system. It can query the database, send alerts to the reviewer and delivers automated review reporting. All reviews are gathered in an overview matrix. One can click on every review to see what the specific details are. There was a lot of interest from the audience for this tool.
Finally I joined the presentation by Andreas Wittke from Lubeck. Although it was one of the last sessions, the title of the presentation did it's work: Zurich 2 was almost full (about 100 people)! For those who consider Sakai as a sort of religion, this presentation might have put them with both feet on the ground again. In a clear and sometimes humoristic style Andreas argued that the end users (in most cases he deals with instructors/teachers) don't care so much about architecture. That's something they can't see. They look at the front-end. The Moodle interface is much more what the teachers like and is easy to work with. So they prefer to use Moodle. Sakai also suffers from a communication (or marketing) problem, and I agree with that. The amount of people that know Moodle is much higher than those who know Sakai. In his conclusions Andreas mentioned that we might look into joining forces: Sakai has the better technical points (database, architecture), Moodle is superior from the usability perspective. Why not work together, instead of being competitors? Come together and discuss! The problem might be that the Moodle community is not as clear as the Sakai community. The people in the Sakai Foundation are easily recognized, but to whom should they talk in the Moodle community? You may want to keep posted by reading Andreas' weblog (in German).

donderdag, juni 14, 2007

The second day

Unfortunately I was only able to attend the morning sessions, since I had to join an important executive board meeting from the 3 technical universities in the Netherlands. The morning started with an interesting breakfast talk with Prof. Rolf Granow from Lubeck. I met him the first time during the Lubeck conference, and it was good to talk to him again. One of the things that came out was a further exploration concerning the possibility of developing a joint studyprogram on industrial engineering. This can be well related and embedded into initiaves that fit the Bologna process. After that I joined a presentation on Learning styles and the online environment by Susan Roig and Melissa Zhou (click here). On the one hand the presenters explained about the eight types of intellingence by Gardner and how that could reflect onto the instructional design of a course. They showed a nice example of a biology course, which was originally developed with another tool however. The course was presented in Sakai, but it could also have been another system. I was hoping to hear more specifically about how Sakai functionality was used in relation to specific learning styles. Maybe in terms of predefined sets of functionality that is required for a typical learning style (e.g. verbally oriented). On the other hand Zhou presented about a functional evaluation of Sakai. This was interesting, especially in relation with our own pilot project. It turned out to be a very critical analysis, although some of the points were more related to organisation instead of Sakai. I think it proves that the Sakai still has to deal with a major challenge from the end user perspective. Roig and Zhou argued that the emphasis is still too much on the development perspective and not on pedagogical issues. They hope that activities on pedagogy issues will increase further on Confluence.
After the coffee break I joined the session of Wytze Koopal. Obviously I was already well informed about the contents of his presentation, but was interested to hear from other experiences. The tips and tricks offered are already listed on Confluence, so I won't list them here again, but I think there are some quite useful issues among them. Today (Thursday, June 14) will be my third and last conference day. I will probably join some more sessions in the teaching and learning track, and of course Andreas Wittke's presentation, which has the challenging title "Why German Universities Choose Moodle instead of Sakai". Tommorow I will work in the quiet surroundings of my home office, trying to finalize on of our Sakai reports and prepare an internal Sakai presentation for next Monday morning.

woensdag, juni 13, 2007

Photo of today

Harriet and the Sqkaiger
Originally uploaded by dr-chuck
Harriet Truscott and the Sakaiger. I am wondering when and where the Sakaiger was invented. Was it in Cambridge (where Harriet is from)? And was it during QA for Sakai 2.2? Any answers would be appreciated...

It has been a busy day

Today was a very busy day, just as I already had foreseen that it would be. Last night I had dinner with the colleagues from the University of Amsterdam, which was time well spent (thanks guys!). I was back in my hotelroom at around 10 PM. Then I needed to upload my photos and wrote a post on Stanley's presentation on this weblog, as well as a warm welcome in the Sakai blogworld for Mara and Chris.
I went to bed well after 1 AM, and stood up at 7.30 AM. Took a shower (woow, that felt good!) and then went straight to my laptop finishing up my presentation. Then phone home and some 10 minutes left for the breakfast, before the sessions would start.
I had an interesting chat with Marc Brierley and missed the first batch of sessions. Marc was curious if and when we would be choosing Sakai. This seemed a returning theme today. I had many people ask me this question. And I just don't know. But we will keep you posted on this weblog as well as on our website,
After my chat with Marc, I was introduced to John van Dongen, who works at KPC Groep (website only in Dutch). We talked about barriers to blogging and barriers in general in education in The Netherlands for making innovative use of ICT in education. In his work, he more than once found that schools are blocking all sorts of IP traffic and ports, just because their IT department or external IT consultant says that it is much safer then.... How bad is that for innovation, you would say?
So, then my own moment of truth was there. I will let others blog about that :-)
Finally, in the afternoon we had organized an important meeting. More on that in a next posting....

Sakai on a Stick

Sakai on a Stick
Originally uploaded by dr-chuck
Edia, a small company here in The Netherlands, have produced a great gadget. It is called Sakai on a stick. This is Jaeques Koeman showing it to Charles Severance.
Check out Edia's services around Sakai at their website,

Some first day impressions

The impression of the first day is rather good. More than 300 people were present and showed to be very much engaged with the Sakai community. I had two short meetings with the new Sakai executive director Michael Korcuska. One right at the registration desk and the second one after my presentation late in the afternoon. Although I reported some critism from the end user perspective, he thought it is very valuable that this kind of feedback is brought into the community. Another example of how the community is focused on helping each other on a variety of issues was my talk with John Norman. The was also present at my presentation and thought that the improvement issues we have identified in our pilot projects can be overcome. He did a direct offer that the Cambridge people are most happy to support our development staff and help to solve the issues we are dealing with. An open invitation to come over to Cambridge and work together on a number of issues: great!

A last impression I'd like to share here was a morning session I attended which was presented by Paul Warwick (University of Cambridge) together with one of his students. This presentation was very much of interest to me, because of the student view that was presented here. It was a nice and clear presentation, and what is more important a lot of issues correspond with our own experiences. The Cambrigde guys explicitly mentioned the need for consistency of the user interface and the lack of usability. This is assumed to be a barrier especially in a situation of distance education, i.e. where you have limited access to your instructor or mentor to help you in case of a problem. A rather surprising remark I heard was that students (considering themselves as a member of the net generation) still require some student training in Sakai. Maybe this is related to the usability issue? Sakai should be further improved to help 'searchability'. Students consider themselves also a search generation: just type in a word or (part of) a phrase and receive all relevant results. Some other issues are primarily related to the organisation of Sakai sites. Beware of consistency in the use of tools. E.g. teacher A sends e-mails outside Sakai, teacher B sends e-mail with attachments insided Sakai, teacher C sends e-mail but refers to a resources folder for finding the 'attachment'. This can make it very confusing for a student. A nice suggestion is to use specific site templates (depending on a pedagogical scenario) which created a pre-defined site structure.

Preview of our evaluation of Sakai

Originally uploaded by wytze
Yesterday, my colleague Stanley Portier delivered a 30 minute overview of what we did in the last 16 months with Sakai. He presented our (almost) final evaluation results based on our three criteria, which were technical, functional and sustainability.
For all the details you can download his presentation and audio. In a few weeks you will find all our reports (in Dutch, but with English summaries) on our website, which is at

dinsdag, juni 12, 2007

Some new blogs on the block

Through the latest newsflash I found out that there are two new blogs within the Sakai community. Incidently both blogs are maintained by Sakai Board members. So for some more news on the current Sakai conference and related stuff, you could go to Mara Hancock or Chris Coppola.
Both blogs are not (yet) on planetsakai, where ofcourse this blog and numerous other already are aggregated.

Pedagogy is key!

This afternoon I sat in a very interesting session here at the Amsterdam conference. It was titled “Practical Pedagogy - Using Sakai Tools in Diverse Teaching Scenarios”. Session leaders were Hannah Reeves and Joshua Pacifici. See for more details. What was nice is that we were asked to split up in groups and to think about Sakai from a teacher perspective. Some very nice suggestions came out of different groups regarding tools to use. What was fascinating to hear is that Agora is considered a tool that is very much usable for different teaching situations.
Agora is a contrib tool, that is in development at Lancaster University in the UK.
You can still go to a presentation on Agora here in Amsterdam, if you are interested (Wednesday, 14:05 - 14:35, Matterhorn 3, Setting up the Agora Online Meeting Tool for Sakai by Adrian Fish, Miguel Gonzalez Losa). Agora will let you do synchronous audio/video conferencing within the Sakai framework. It also lets you archive the session, for later use.

Not busy yet at registration desk

Originally uploaded by wytze
This pictures the registration desk this afternoon. Not so busy, but I am sure it will be tomorrow morning! I heard that there will be 30 nationalities at this conference. The total number of registered participants is also above the expectations of many: more than 375 and still counting!
After taking this picture we went to the Blackboard reception at their offices on Dam Square. Jan Day welcomed us (that is, me and Jan van den Berge of Portfolio4U) and almost immediately we got presented our first 'bitterbal'. We enjoyed some beer with some Blackboard employees. I also had a chat with Chuck, as well as with Michael Korcuska, the new executive director. This was a very interesting conversation. Michael was very interested in the situation regarding Sakai in The Netherlands, as well as the results of our pilots with Sakai at the University of Twente. He wasn't surprised that in our evaluation the most critical factor was the functionality and usability of Sakai.
Furthermore Michael invited me to give my opinions on different things regarding Sakai. I emphasized that, in my opinion, our marketing and communication should be better. And furthermore that it is important that the number of production deployments within Europe should get higher.
After thatI had a great dinner at De Waag, together with the guys from Portfolio4U (thanks Jim and Jan!). And now it is time for me to go to bed!

maandag, juni 11, 2007


I just arrived in the Mövenpick hotel. First impression: great hotel! The wireless internet in the room works perfectly (well.... not so, it is getting slower now). My view is facing West: the IJ with the ferries going up and down.
I have just uploaded a few pictures to Flickr, tagged "sakaiamsterdam07". You will find them (and other pictures from other users with the same tag) in the sidebar. Or go directly to

vrijdag, juni 08, 2007

Reception at Blackboard offices in Amsterdam

Just a copy of a message that just came in from Jan Day.
From: Jan Day
Subject: Sakai Conference Amsterdam: Reception Monday, June 11
Date: 2007-06-07 19:36:19 GMT (12 hours and 28 minutes ago)
Dear fellow Sakai Conference attendees,
Allow me to welcome you to Amsterdam with a reception at
Blackboard's European headquarters located in the heart
of Amsterdam. Please join me on Monday, June 11 from
5:30 - 7:30. Come and enjoy drinks and light fare
in the heart of one of my favorite cities.

Complete message, including route description.

donderdag, juni 07, 2007

Interesting presentations, part 3

Today the last recommendations for the upcoming conference. I will point to three sessions that promise to be interesting. I must admit that I am really really looking forward to our next conference. I hope to see people I already know, but I also hope to see and meet people that don't have familiar faces. YES, I really expect and hope to see lots of people that are not part of the Sakai community (yet). I hope that the experience of the conference will make them feel at home too.
My first recommendation, mainly also as a note for myself, is a panel discussion called "Models for Project Teams" (Peter Knoop and others) where several recent examples of how project teams have expanded their membership and adjusted their structure, will be shared. (June 12, Zurich 2, 12.oo hrs)
The second recommendation is a presentation by Jim Farmer, who always has interesting angles to his subject, based on facts and figures. He will present The Public Face of eLearning. Jim will 'prove' that "eLearning does improve retention and completion--two goals of U.S. and U.K. government". (June 12, Zurich 2, 2.40 PM).
And the last recommendation is the public Q&A with the Sakai Board. This is your chance to ask your question that you always wanted to ask. (June 14, 11.30 AM, Zurich 2)

dinsdag, juni 05, 2007

New Executive Director for Sakai Foundation

John Norman, chairman of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors, has announced today that we have a new Executive Director: "After a thorough search I am pleased to announce, on behalf of the Board of Directors, that Michael Korcuska has been named Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation, effective July 23, 2007. In this role, he will lead the Foundation's activities in developing technology, sharing best practices, and fostering collaboration on behalf of the Sakai community."
Michael (link to this current position, including picture) will be present in Amsterdam, so that he can meet with the community.
See for the complete announcement.

maandag, juni 04, 2007

Interesting presentations, part 2

Registration for the Amsterdam conference is still possible. In case you haven't decided yet, let me put the spotlight on two more presentations (well actually 3) that seem very interesting. And these presentations are just a few of the many non-technical presentations that will be available in Amsterdam:
1/ James Dalziel will be doing two presentations. But he will not be in Amsterdam! He will be presenting new developments around LAMS (Learning Activity Management System), but also RAMS (Research Activity Management) through a live videolink. I think that RAMS is a very interesting development in itself. RAMS builds on the LAMS V2 architecture for sequencing of collaborative activities and applies it to eResearch processes such as team meetings, peer review and research lifecycle management. RAMS integrates with Sakai.
2/ In the Teaching and Learning track there is some very interesting stuff. For example a presentation by Paul Turner (School of Information Science & Learning Technologies at University of Missouri-Columbia, USA). Paul will share his latest findings from research on how Sakai can be made more ‘sociable’ to enhance formal and informal social interaction and collaborative learning experiences.
I have linked in this post to the respective pages on Confluence (the wiki of the Sakai commmunity), where the session presenters will post their stuff. If you want to have a complete overview of the day-to-day conference schedule, you should go to

donderdag, mei 31, 2007

Meeting notes available (30 May 2007)

As usual, the meeting notes of our meeting are available on our website. Our last meeting was held on May 30, 2007 in Utrecht. Wytze and Frank provided some details on the way things work within the Sakai community. We had a seperate presentation by Portfolio4U.
Some photos are also available, ofcourse.

woensdag, mei 30, 2007

Come to the U-Camp!

Just a quick note: come and join the U-Camp! This is the email that Tim Archer from Australia sent out yesterday.
-----Original Message-----
From: Archer, Tim []
Sent: Wed 30-5-2007 02:05
Subject: Amsterdam U-Camp
Hi All,
It would be great to see a wide range of people at the U-Camp at Amsterdam, both in terms of skills and geographic representation.
Currently, we have 22 people who have indicated that they are attending but only 6 from outside Northern America, and we would particularly like to see more Europeans, Dutch, South Africans, Australians etc :) so that we can enrich the whole experience!
If you are coming it would be a great help to add your name to the Attending U-Camp Roster page, at
Tim (Chief U-Camp Herder)

zondag, mei 27, 2007

Question of the Week

Recently a new initiative was started by Peter Knoop (great idea!) within the Sakai community: you can vote on a question of the week through a poll.
The second poll is titled "Which three areas of Sakai do you think are the most important for your implementation?"
To respond, please access the Polls tool in the "DG: Open Forum" site on Collab. (Note: you need an account on Collab and have to be a member of this site to access the poll. If you need an account, go to Collab's home page and use the New Account tool to self-register for an account. If you are not a member of the site, then use the Membership tool in your MyWorkspace to join the site). Or click here and you will be (re)directed.
The question of the previous poll was: What version of Sakai do plan to be running in production in September 2007?
The results were
Sakai 2.1 (n=0) 0%
Sakai 2.2 (n=0) 0%
Sakai 2.3 (n=26) 24%
Sakai 2.4 (n=34) 76%

zaterdag, mei 26, 2007

Contrib(utions) from The Netherlands

While browsing through Confluence, I came across a (new!) Contrib bool from The Netherlands, Sakai Maps. I am not sure if this is really the first Contrib tool from The Netherlands, but is certainly worth a note here.
The SakaiMaps tool integrates Google Maps into Sakai and allows users to define and browse points of interest (POI) on the map. Each POI has a name, a short description, a type and optionally a url with more information.

donderdag, mei 24, 2007

Interesting presentations, part 1

As was promised earlier on this weblog we would like to highlight some interesting presentations that will be given during the upcoming Sakai conference in Amsterdam.
In this post two promising presentations that I would like to recommend:
1. An Open-Standards-Based Collaboration and Learning Environment. The Open-CLE project is a collaboration between Rice University and IBM. It aims to develop an open-standards-based, service oriented architecture to help educational institutions loosely tie together open source applications (such as Sakai, Connexions, and D-Space). Angela Rabuch and Mustansar Mehmood will be the presenters in this session. Go check it out on Wednesday, June 13, 14.05 hrs (in room Matterhorn 1). Some more info I found is at IBM and Rice.
2. Why German universities choose Moodle instead of Sakai is a presentation by Andreas Wittke and Rolf Granow from Germany. I myself can imagine some reasons why Moodle is chosen over Sakai. But this is still a presentation worth visiting, since this will also give some insight in how the Dutch Sakai community should be move forward. I will be there on Thursday, June 14, at 14.05 hrs (Zurich 2).

woensdag, mei 23, 2007

Agenda for next meeting (May 30)

Next week we will see the sixth meeting of the Sakai SIG NL. As always, we will be meeting at the offices of SURFfoundation in Utrecht. Check out the agenda (in Dutch; the meeting language is also Dutch), in case you are interested. If you are planning on attending, it is advisable to send a little note to me, so that I can plan for the appropriate number of 'broodjes'.

dinsdag, mei 22, 2007

Sakai 2.4.0 is available

Today, May 22, the latest version of Sakai has become available. There is lots of new stuff in this release, that has been thoroughly tested by the community, as always.
There is a new and significantly improved Chat tool, but also some completely new tools are now in the core release: Mailtool, Page Order Helper (in Site Info), Polls and User Membership. Furthermore there is new functionality that can be used by means of the Provisional tools, namely Messages, Forums (as two separate tools) and Post'em.
More info is available on the website, as well as detailed release notes on Confluence.

maandag, mei 21, 2007

Speakers from The Netherlands

We are only three weeks away from the next (the 7th) Sakai conference, which will be held in Amsterdam. Registration is still possible (only $395 for three days of Sakai!).

In the coming weeks we will present some highlights from the upcoming conference on this weblog. This first post will have some statistics.

First of all the number of sessions: there are 125 sessions in the schedule right now. So there is something for everyone! The number of sessions with (one or more) Dutch speakers is considerable. On my last count there were 3 sessions planned on the first day, June 12. On June 13 there is one session, which is mine. And on the last day, June 14, you can attend 4 Dutch-oriented sessions.

vrijdag, april 27, 2007

Sakai conference 2007 Logo, Dutch Design!!!!

Portfolio4u and some of the members of the Sakai Foundation (Susan Hardin and Joseph Hardin) worked together to design the new Sakai Conference logo.

Dutch Graphic Designer, Rik Laurentzen, did the design. so..this is really Dutch Design.

We went to lots of designs with Windmills, Wooden Shoes and finally the one with the Tulips.

The Tulip stands as a central point and reflects one of the main (export)products of The Netherlands.

You can also see the wavy blue Sakai lines, they represent the water in The Netherlands. And maybe you know, but there is a lot of water in The Netherlands.

The new logo will be seen on all the conference items like poster, programs and t-shirt's.

The Portfolio4u team is proud the Sakai community choose the Dutch designed logo.

Zoom in on the Sakai Google map and see what is happening in The Netherlands

Portfolio4u and the University of Michigan work together to fresh up the Dutch Sakai Google map.
So check it out and zoom in to The Netherlands to see how many Sakai installations we did over the last year. And the number of schools that are starting with Sakai is growing fast.
Link to Sakai map:

donderdag, april 19, 2007

Sakai and/or Sharepoint?

As Wytze mentioned in his last post, yesterday there was a workshop at SURFFoundation initiated by the coordinators of the SURF SIGs Sakai-NL and Sharepoint. Some of the participants were expecting a sort of product comparance between Sakai and Sharepoint (SP). Probably the two are basically the two mainstreams in Dutch Higher Education that have a high amount of interest at the moment as possible alternatives for current VLE's like Blackboard, TeleTOP, N@tschool, etc. In some discussions the two are considered to be equal alternatives. Simply stated: when we are looking for a new VLE we might consider Sakai or Sharepoint. Or can we also think of a combination of both? As a reader of this blog you probably know that the University of Twente is conducting a profound pilot project in which Sakai is taken into consideration. There were some attempts to include Sharepoint in the final phase of the pilot project. For several reasons, we did not include that in the current project because the deadline says that it has to be finalised by the end of May. Moreover, a similar investigation should be taken seriously and not as a sort of epilogue of a Sakai study. But can you actually compare them? Sharepoint - already starting in 2001 - could be found in the support of business processes, workflow optimalisation and quality assurance processes. I remember being the external consultant for a Dutch water management company which had a primary goal to organise their document management (especially version management, make specific employees responsible for a workflow process. They also wanted a portal page in which documents, and information from other resources could be displayed.

My basic statement is that the conceptual design behind SP is completely different compared to Sakai. SP originates from a business approach, Sakai was developed in an educational environment. Examples show that SP is missing typical educational functions. We already see pilots in which SP is combined with a VLE like It's Learning. Is it any use to compare Sakai with SP as if they were completely interchangeable? Isn't it comparing apples with pears (as we say in Dutch)? A product oriented discussion is always difficult. What are the functional and technical criteria and what about bridging different policies? We have seen that in our recent efforts to achieve a virtuel learning environment for the three technical universities (3TU). Our current approach is to take it from the archictecture side: first define business processes (functional services), then functional components and finally decide which (parts of) applications may deliver a specific function. This rather open approach also enables us to include other information processes (student adminstration, HRM, finance) and build a truly integrated environment.

Basically, the lack of integration is what is truly bothering most of the end users: searching for information in system A gives a different result from searching the 'same' information in system B.

It's interesting to hear how others perceive these issues. Anyone commenting?

Diverse needs for our IT systems

Yesterday I facilitated a workshop for around 60 people, representing quite a few (>15) institutions for Higher Education from The Netherlands, as well as a few commercial ICT-partners that have some affinity with (Higher) Education. This workshop was part of a yearly event that SURFfoundation organizes for the special interest groups that are facilitated by SURFfoundation. The workshop was jointly organized by the coordinator for the Sharepoint Special Interest Group (Nico Juist is his name) and me, as the acting coordinator for the Sakai SIG NL.
Just our joint announcement of the workshop was a big success; within a few days after the online announcement we had more than 70 registered participants! Since we wanted to keep things organized and workable we decided to shutdown the online registration for this workshop after that. In the end we had approximately 60 people in the room.
I will not dwell too much on the non-interactive part of the meeting, where we presented our Special Interest Groups. The workshop-part (for which you really never have enough time!) was much more interesting. We grouped the participants in 10 groups. We asked them to imagine being someone else, for example an undergraduate student, or the administrative staff, or the Chief Information Manager, or the faculty in the institution. From this standpoint we then asked the groups to look at processes and IT-components needed for these processes with regard to an optimal IT-solution.
There were some fascinating results actually. There was an enormous amount of very diverse suggestions that people came up with. Some highlights that stood out for me:
  • The post-graduate student has a urgent need for incorporating study and work. So IT stuff should be efficient and should cover both work and study (ideally).
  • The administration people wanted a completely integrated system.
  • The faculty would really great IT applications with which they can collaborate outside of their institution.
  • The CIO-perspective is the ‘most’ challenging, because they need to balance all the needs that do exist.
  • Several groups asked for better (synchronous) communication tools within our IT infrastructure.
In conclusion I would say that we need flexibility in IT (and thereby providing the right stuff for the very different actors and roles within our institutions) and on the other hand there is a need for structure and stability. I would argue that the Sakai framework might well be the structure on which the need for a lot of different tools can be fulfilled. I am thereby thinking of all the great tools that are in development or will be promoted for the Sakai 2.4.0 release. Unfortunately Agora from Lancaster University, which is a toolset for online collaboration within the Sakai framework, is not yet ready for production.
Some pictures of the workshop are at Flickr.